Glitch: American AAdvantage Awards On Cathay Pacific Aren’t Being Held For 5 Days

American Airlines offers a generous 5 day ‘hold’ for award itineraries. You don’t have to put down a credit card or spend your miles to lock in an award option.

A reader with an AAdvantqage award on hold for travel on Cathay Pacific let me know he received a call on Wednesday saying they shouldn’t have been offered the 5 day hold because “some partners” were no longer allowing this, and the woman who called him said she has been very busy calling passengers letting them know they had to ticket or cancel immediately, despite having these awards held.

An American Airlines spokesperson tells me this is a temporary glitch with Cathay Pacific awards,

The AAdvantage award hold policy hasn’t changed. We’ve identified an issue where reward itineraries placed on hold for travel on Cathay Pacific are being canceled in accordance with Cathay’s award hold policy, which is less than five days. Until the issue can be resolved, we’re proactively contacting members so they aren’t negatively affected. We aren’t aware of any other carriers affected by this issue.


Cathay Pacific First Class

Update: American currently recommends ticketing itineraries that include Cathay Pacific within 3 days of holding a reservation.

When American eliminated award redeposit fees in the fall I worried that this would mean the end of putting awards on hold, something U.S. competitors no longer offer. Gone are the days when 30, then 14, then 3 day award holds were common. Hopefully American keeps its hold policy, which makes AAdvantage easier to use than competitor programs, and quickly resolves the glitch of Cathay Pacific cancelling held itineraries.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Since AA eliminated award redeposit fees, what is the benefit of being able to hold a potential award reservation?

  2. @tommyleo – You can hold it, build your itinerary, and transfer miles into AA to complete it.

    In order to book an award (even if you cancel later) you’ll have to have the miles in your account in the first place.

  3. @tommyleo – Also helpful when you need to make quick changes but your AA miles balance won’t support issuing the same tickets twice.

    For example: I have 30k miles, book a web saver for 20k, then find a better routing for the same price. My current balance is now 10k, but I have to cancel the existing 20k booking and WAIT for the miles to be redeposited into my account before I can book the new routing. With the hold I can be reasonably confident the redeposit will happen before availability dries up. Without the hold, I could cancel the existing and then the space for the new routing could disappear, and the old routing space might also disappear(!).

    There are a good number of use cases, and it’s sad that the holds are likely disappearing. You don’t need them every day, but when you need them, they’re sooooo nice to have.

  4. It’s not new, got a call from AA agent few months ago that they will not be able to hold CX reservation for more than 24 hours

    These ticket holds were beneficial to validate reservation details especially when booked over phone. Eliminated need to cancel/refund/get same tickets again etc ..

  5. The problem with Cathay has been around for a few weeks, I did the same about a month ago and got a call from AA telling me the same.

  6. I had a CX award on hold in early March and it canceled on me (before the 5 day window) and I couldn’t figure out why. I imagine this was what’s going on, if the CX hold is 3 days, that’s about the right timing.

    Thankfully the seat returned to award availability within a few minutes and was able to book it again (and got it ticketed within an hour or so just in case)

  7. @Cedric Delcour – AA says these rules aren’t supposed to apply to partner bookings and they are working to correct, we shall see

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